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The smoke from ferocious Canadian wildfires cast a sickly pall over much of the eastern U.S. today, worsening air quality for millions of people. The air was acrid, skylines looked orange, and municipal officials told people to stay indoors. The National Weather Service does not expect things will get much better tomorrow.
About 128 million people were under air quality alerts because of wildfire smoke and ozone in the U.S. on Wednesday night. For smoke alone, around 100 million were under alerts across 16 states.
Poor air quality affects 18 states
- The air quality in New York City was the worst in the world Wednesday, according to IQAir.com, a tracking service.
- More than 400 wildfires are burning in Canada, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fires Centre.
- In Quebec, more than 150 forest fires were burning yesterday, with more than 110 considered out of control.
- The Federal Aviation Administration took steps to limit air traffic around New York City, temporarily grounding flights at LaGuardia Airport.
Air quality concerns expected to continue Thursday
After a day of orange haze that cast a pall over New York City, obscuring some of the nation’s best-known landmarks with smoke from Canadian wildfires, New Yorkers and others were in store for another day of bad air Thursday.
The smoke in major metro areas, including Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., was expected to continue through Thursday and cause air unhealthy for all groups, the National Weather Service said.
Air quality advisories were in place for all five boroughs of the city of more than 8 million people, and Mayor Eric Adams called the situation unprecedented.
Biden pledges additional firefighting support to Canada
President Joe Biden offered additional firefighting support to Canada to help suppress the blazes burning across the country.
Biden directed all available federal firefighting assets to assist with the effort, according to a readout of his call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.
The U.S. has deployed more than 600 firefighters and support personnel, as well as other resources, to assist with the fires, according to the readout.
More than 400 fires are burning in Canada, 252 of which are out of control, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
New York governor warns of ‘health and environmental crisis’
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the wildfire smoke affecting most of her state “a health and environmental crisis” Wednesday, and she urged residents to take it seriously.
The smoke blanketing major metro areas, including New York City, was expected to create dangerous air through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
Hochul said that normally the Air Quality Index is around 50 and that Brooklyn measured 413 and Queens 407 on Wednesday.
“Simply stay indoors. Outdoors is dangerous in just about every part of our state,” Hochul said at a news conference. “Not just vulnerable communities, but literally everyone.”
New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park cancels shows amid smoke
The Public Theater in New York City is canceling the first two performances of “Hamlet” in its popular Shakespeare in the Park run because of smoke from Canadian wildfires.
“Hamlet” performances that had been set for Thursday and Friday were called off Wednesday, said the nonprofit organization that puts on the summertime attraction.
"We hope to resume performances this weekend but will continue to closely monitor the ongoing situation in the days ahead," The Public Theater said in a statement.
New York City officials urged vulnerable New Yorkers to stay inside and all other residents to limit their time outdoors because of smoke.
The Broadway League said most shows remained open and were set to perform, but it urged people to check each show or theater's official website to make sure.
More than 20,000 in Canada remain displaced as country conducts 'all hands on deck' effort
More than 20,000 people in Canada remained displaced from their homes Wednesday as hundreds of wildfires burned across the country, officials said.
There were 414 wildfires burning Wednesday, “239 of which are determined to be out of control,” Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of emergency preparedness, said at a news conference.
An estimated 20,183 people remained evacuated from their communities, Blair said, adding that all parts of the government were working together.
"It’s all hands on deck, and it’s around the clock," Blair said.
Hundreds of members of the armed forces have also been deployed to assist in firefighting and other response efforts, officials said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed firefighters in Nova Scotia as heroes after they went into a burning community to rescue an elderly man who had been unaware of the fire threat.
"Firefighters are stepping up, first responders are stepping up in harrowing situations to save their fellow citizens," Trudeau said Wednesday.
Blair said there have been more than 2,200 wildfires across Canada this year, which have burned about 3.8 million hectares, or about 9.4 million acres.
New York and other major metro areas to have unhealthy air through Thursday
New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and the nation’s capital are expected to have unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke through Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
Millions of people will be warned to continue limiting their exposure and remain inside. Philadelphia and other parts of Pennsylvania were under a “code red” Wednesday, and New York Mayor Eric Adams told vulnerable people to stay indoors — and everyone else to limit their time outside as much as possible.
Major metro areas were “expected to experience unhealthy air quality levels for all age groups through Thursday, before winds shift more easterly, pushing smoke further west into the interior Northeast and Ohio Valley on Friday,” the National Weather Service said Wednesday.
It named Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in a forecast discussion.
The weather service in Binghamton, New York, said conditions made some areas look like Mars.
Asians in the U.S. say air quality 'feels dangerously like home'
The orange haze suffocating New York City and other U.S. cities is reminding some Asian residents of conditions in their home countries. They’ve taken to social media to describe the familiarity of the smell and the sight of the smoke, which migrated from Canadian wildfires over the past month.
“Feels dangerously like home,” a person tweeted in response to the news that New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday had among the worst air quality in the world, according to IQAir.com, a tracking service.
Some Asian cities named in the top 10 for worst air quality were Delhi, India; Lahore, Pakistan; and Jakarta, Indonesia.
New York to make 1 million N95 masks available to public
Tuesday's smoke impact was the third worst in U.S. history — and Wednesday could be worse
Tuesday’s smoke impacts rank as the third-worst in the United States since 2006, according to analysis from a Stanford University researcher who tracks wildfire smoke and its impacts.
The analysis calculated the amount of smoke exposure experienced per person in the United States on Tuesday and compared it to other major events, said Marshall Burke, an associate professor of Earth system science at Stanford University
Other regions on the West Coast have experienced much higher levels of smoke exposure, but overall impacts skewed higher in this event because eastern U.S. population centers like New York City were heavily affected, Burke said.
“This is a historic event. We’ve gone back to our smoke data and not seen anything of the same magnitude and size on the East Coast,” Burke said. And for New York City, “it’s by far the worst in the last 18 years.”
Wednesday — once data is analyzed — could be the worst day of smoke in the U.S. in nearly two decades, Burke said.
Levels of particulate matter for New York City on Wednesday doubled the worst days of any previous year, according to charts Burke produced.
Burke’s research is focused on the health impacts of wildfire smoke pollution. He uses satellites and air pollution monitors to evaluate how smoke travels in the U.S. and the severity of its exposures.
Eerie video shows George Washington Bridge swallowed by smoke
How to be safe indoors
Even when you stay inside, some smoke will get in.
There are options to reduce smoke levels of indoor air, according to Linsey Marr, an environmental engineer and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and one of the world’s leading aerosol experts. Marr advises:
1. Keep the windows closed.
2. If you have a portable air filtration unit (HEPA filter, air purifier), run it on high.
3. Most window AC units recirculate indoor air and do not pull in air from outside. This is a good time to make sure the AC unit's filter is installed correctly. It will remove some of the smoke particles from the indoor air that passes through the unit. If you do have a good filter installed, run the fan on high to move as much air as possible through the filter. There are a few types of window AC units that have an adjustment to bring in some outdoor air. You should adjust the lever to use all recirculated air and zero outdoor air.
3. Most residential central HVAC systems do not bring in outdoor air, so if you have a good filter installed (MERV 11 or higher), you can turn the fan to run constantly to circulate indoor air through the filter. This will help remove particles from indoor air.
4. If the smoke is bothering you indoors, you could also wear a good quality mask, like an N95, KN95, or KF94. This will filter out at least 95% of the smoke particles.
National Weather Service says 'not a great deal' of improved air quality expected tomorrow
In a sobering alert this afternoon, the National Weather Service said that forecasters expect "not a great deal" of air quality improvement heading into tomorrow as thick smoke from ferocious Canada wildfires continues to waft southward along the eastern U.S.
The weather service tweeted a map showing that air quality will be particularly poor in New York, the mid-Atlantic region and parts of the Midwest, including swaths of Indiana and Ohio.
Yankees and Phillies games postponed, too
Tonight's games between the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park (originally slated for 6:05 p.m. ET) and the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium (originally set for 7:05 p.m. ET) have been postponed because of the dangerous conditions, the MLB said in a news release.
"These postponements were determined following conversations throughout the day with medical and weather experts and all of the impacted Clubs regarding clearly hazardous air quality conditions in both cities," the league said.
WNBA game between NYC and Minneapolis postponed because of hazardous conditions
Tonight's WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the Minnesota Lynx has been postponed because of the dangerous conditions along the eastern U.S., a spokesperson for the Brooklyn-based team confirmed to NBC News.
The game was scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Grubhub tells drivers they will not be penalized for avoiding areas where they'd feel unsafe
At least one online delivery group is telling drivers they can avoid the most heavily affected parts of their cities without facing consequences on their platform.
In a statement, Grubhub confirmed it had alerted drivers that they would not be penalized "for opting out of blocks if they do not feel safe completing deliveries."
The company added that following New York City’s announcement about air quality deteriorating, it was also "reminding those with pre-existing conditions to stay inside."
Just after 2 p.m. Wednesday, New York City officials said they'd extended the warning to limit outdoor activity until Thursday at midnight.
Biden administration send firefighters to Canada to battle wildfires
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has deployed over 600 U.S. firefighters and personnel to help battle Canadian wildfires as heavy smoke blankets the northeastern United States, the White House said.
Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that Washington had also sent equipment, such as water bombers, to help put out the hundreds of blazing fires and that officials were in touch with the Canadian government.
She said federal agencies at home were sharing information with local officials about the air quality in areas that have been impacted and urged Americans to “take precautions, especially if you have conditions.”
Jean-Pierre demurred when asked if President Biden, who dealt with asthma as a child, had been advised to wear a mask outdoors but said he did not wear a mask on Wednesday when walking from his residence to the Oval Office, an outdoor path along the colonnade.
“No one is wearing a mask. It’s a short walk,” Jean-Pierre said.
U.N. secretary general calls for more efforts to limit wildfires in a warming world
Google tells employees in New York and along the East Coast to work from home
Google is telling its East Coast employees to stay home as wildfire smoke fills the air in New York and other major cities.
Company site leads in New York wrote in a memo to workers in the area that air quality in many parts of the region had reached “unhealthy” levels, citing the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation. In New York, most employees have been expected to work from physical offices at least three days a week.
“We are advising Googlers to work from home if possible, and limit their exposure to outdoor air,” according to the note, which was obtained by CNBC. “Terraces across our New York campus will remain closed today.”
Startling images show NYC skyline Monday versus today
Black residents of Detroit brace themselves for rougher conditions
Detroit’s air quality is among the world’s worst due to the Canadian wildfires, potentially exacerbating many health problems that residents of the predominantly Black city have struggled with for generations.
Detroit resident Sandra Turner-Handy, a retiree of the Michigan Environmental Council, said that before the fires, locals had been breathing high particulate matter and other toxins “on a consistent basis.” She said she is especially concerned about the effects of the fires on those who live near the Detroit River, an area sought for industrial use and which contains high levels of pollution.
She said Detroit’s “asthma rates are three times that of other cities in our state.”
Broadway show starring Jodie Comer briefly halted after star has 'difficulty breathing'
Today's matinee performance of the Broadway production of "Prima Facie" was briefly paused after the show's star, Emmy Award-winning actor Jodie Comer, experienced "difficulty breathing," according to a spokeswoman for the production.
The performance was "halted approximately 10 minutes into the performance after Jodie Comer had difficulty breathing due to the poor air quality in New York City because of smoke from the Canadian wildfires," said a spokeswoman for The Press Room, a theater publicity firm.
The spokeswoman said the performance was set to start again "from the top" with understudy Dani Arlington filling in for Comer in the role of Tessa.
Comer is best known for her co-starring role on the twisty BBC America spy thriller "Killing Eve."
New York City's air quality is officially the worst in the world
The current air quality in New York City hit more than 340 on the air quality index scale this afternoon, making it the worst in the world, according to IQAir, a Swiss monitoring service.
Is it safe to exercise outdoors when the air quality is poor?
As air quality continues to plummet, runners may want to rethink their plans, experts say.
An air quality index over 150 signals that outdoor exercise may be risky, said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonologist with the American Lung Association.
“It’s like swimming in polluted water,” he said.
“You’re going to get irritated, probably 20 minutes into your jog,” Galiatsatos said. “You’ll develop a cough, some dryness and you may even get a little bit more breathless because what you’re trying to do is some level of endurance, but your lungs aren’t breathing in healthy air, they’re breathing in toxins, they’re breathing in noxious stimuli. You’ll feel that toll.”
414 wildfires burning in Canada, more than 200 of them ‘out of control’
There are 414 wildfires burning in Canada as of today, 239 of which are considered “out of control,” Canadian Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair said in a news conference.
To date, an estimated 20,183 people remain evacuated from homes and communities.
“It’s all hands on deck and it’s around the clock,” Blair said of the government response to the blazes.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said hundreds of armed forces members have been deployed to provide additional support to firefighters and affected communities.
Washington is also lending support, with the U.S. Forest Service providing 648 personnel as of today.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters today that President Joe Biden was briefed on the fires last week and has been regularly updated since then. The U.S. has also sent equipment such as water bombers, she said.
The orange haze is straight out of 'Blade Runner 2049'
Twitter users in New York City and other smoke-shrouded cities in the eastern U.S. evidently feel like they're living in the post-apocalyptic dystopia of "Blade Runner 2049."
In the movie, a sequel to the 1982 cult classic, Ryan Gosling's character hunts bioengineered humans known as "replicants" and treks through barren landscapes bathed in a mysterious orange fog.
The visual similarities between real-life New York and the Oscar-winning cinematography of "Blade Runner 2049" were not lost on cinephiles:
George Washington Bridge barely visible through smoke
Map: Wildfire smoke has covered the U.S. for more than a month
While tens of millions of people on the East Coast experienced their first bout of poor air quality yesterday, data shows that much of the United States has been dealing with the smoke of a string of northern fires since early May.
New York extends air quality health advisory to tomorrow
New York has extended its air quality health advisory to tomorrow.
The move comes as the air quality in the region is forecast to remain at "unhealthy" levels tomorrow.
The advisory was already in place today for the NYC metro area, Long Island, the lower and upper Hudson Valley, eastern Lake Ontario and the central and western New York regions.
The pollutant of concern is fine particulate matter — which can cause short-term health effects such as shortness of breath and nose, throat and eye irritation. Exposure can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease, according to the New York State Health Department.
People are urged to stay indoors, use mass transit instead of driving to avoid contributing to emissions, and to conserve fuel and energy.
Livestreams of Manhattan illustrate intense smokiness
Livestreams of various points in Manhattan show just how much smoke is blanketing the city.
Wildfire danger high in central Pennsylvania, governor says
Yes, it's 'Clean Air Day' in Canada
It's June 7, and that just so happens to be "Clean Air Day" in Canada.
"This is a day to recognize how important good air quality is to our health, our environment, and the economy," according to the Canadian government's website. "It was first celebrated in 1999 when Canada declared Clean Air Day an annual celebration during Canadian Environment Week."
Delaware governor issues warning to residents as smoke wafts across eastern U.S.
NASA's forecast for the coming days
A new NASA forecast shows just how much of the country could be cloaked in wildfire smoke over the next four days. The animation, produced by scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, shows a thick plume swirling over the Northeast today and into tomorrow, with conditions improving slightly heading into the weekend.
In the coming days, the model suggests that a portion of the country stretching from the Midwest into the Southeast could also experience hazy conditions, as tendrils of smoke waft over these regions. The yellow and red colorings in the animation show concentrations of small particulate matter that is commonly found in air pollution from wildfire smoke.
Wildfire smoke affecting air travel, with flights temporarily grounded at LaGuardia
The wildfire smoke creeping across the Northeast is affecting air travel today.
Departures were grounded at New York City's LaGuardia Airport “due to low visibility” until 2 p.m. ET, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA also paused flights from the Upper Midwest and East Coast bound for LaGuardia.
Newark Liberty International Airport tweeted that “current smoke condition may impact your travel, please check with your airline to determine the status of your flight.” The FAA said it was slowing flights to Newark.
Samuel Ausby with the FAA Command Center said in a video shared on Twitter: “Today we’re dealing with some smoke and haze in the northeast."
"There are some fires in Canada that have been producing some smoke, due to the wind patterns it is now impacting the northeast of the U.S. so from Boston, the NY metro area, Philadelphia and the D.C. metro area — are all experiencing some smoke that could impact travel through the airports,” he said.
So far, there have been a total of 1,147 flights delayed and 73 canceled, according to FlightAware.com.
Climate change spurs intensifying wildfires in Canada
Climate change is increasing the impact of wildfires in Canada, according to the 2019 Canada’s Changing Climate Report, the country’s national assessment of climate impacts.
“It’s not really the number, it’s mostly the size of the fires,” said Xianli Wang, a fire research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, whose work is cited in the report. “Fires are larger and more intense, and we see a lot more fires burning through the night,” which makes them more difficult to control.
Wang said climate change is increasing the length of the fire season in Canadian provinces and increasing the likelihood of fire weather. Modeling suggests that trend will continue and expand as the climate warms, Wang added. Historic policies that prioritized fire suppression also have allowed fuels — dried vegetation and logs — to build up on the landscape in many areas, increasing fire potential.
“If you don’t have a lot of dry, windy and hot days, fires will be quiet and fires may not grow as big as they are this year. As soon as the fire weather is ready for the fire to grow, they go crazy,” Wang said. “Climate change is definitely doing its work.”
Air purifiers can reduce indoor particles by up to 85%
Portable air purifiers with HEPA filters can be very effective, reducing indoor particle concentrations by as much as 85%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Choose air purifiers that have a clean air delivery rate — a metric of how effective they are at removing pollutants — of at least two-thirds the size of the room they are intended for, experts say.
For most rooms, a clean air delivery rate equal to 300 or more cubic feet per minute should be enough, said Dr. Barbara Mann, a pulmonologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
To maximize air purifiers’ effectiveness, change their filters at the recommended intervals, she added. Keep windows closed when using them. When coming in from extended periods outside in areas of poor air quality, change clothes, take off shoes and shower, she said.
Pollutants can come from indoor sources, too, said Dr. Peter Moschovis, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
“Don’t generate extra particles indoors if you can,” he said. “So, smoking, vaping, burning incense, aerosolized essential oils — all those things aren’t good for your lungs at baseline.”
Can wildfire smoke make allergy symptoms worse?
While smoke itself is not an allergen, it can irritate the nasal passages and airways.
“If you have allergies on top of that, you've got two different things causing symptoms at the same time,” said Dr. Stokes Peebles, an allergy and pulmonary specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Symptoms may also worsen depending on what’s burning. If a person is sensitive to an environmental allergen, such as trees or grass, breathing in the smoke that results from burning that allergen may cause a reaction.
What’s more, heat can cause pollen to rise and be airborne for longer periods of time, spreading those particles even hundreds of miles away, Peebles said. “They can travel farther than they would ordinarily because they go higher into the atmosphere.”
An N95 mask can help block those particles for people especially prone to environmental allergens, he said.
Pennsylvania warns of 'code red' air quality
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said today was a "code red air quality action day" due to smoke from wildfires.
"Pennsylvania residents should limit their outdoor activities, especially older people, children, those who are active outdoors, and those with lung or respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis," it said in a tweet.
NYC mayor urges 'vulnerable' residents to stay indoors as city's air quality plunges
New York City Mayor Eric Adams offered a stark warning at a briefing this morning about deteriorating air quality in the city, which currently ranks among the worst on the planet.
"We recommend vulnerable New Yorkers stay inside, and all New Yorkers should limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible," he said. He added that this was "not the day to train for a marathon or do an outside event with your children."
"Stay inside, close windows and doors and use air purifiers if you have them," Adams said.
The air quality in New York City was 158 on the air quality index (AQI) as of noon, according to IQAir, a Swiss air monitoring company. IQAir labels that air quality reading "unhealthy."
IQAir's real-time air quality ranking shows that New York City currently has the fourth-worst air quality in the world, behind only Delhi, India; Dakha, Bangladesh; and Toronto.
Is poor air quality bad for your pets?
Absolutely, experts say.
“Other mammals, they suffer from many of the same lung conditions that humans do,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at the Allergy & Asthma Network.
People should keep their pets indoors as much as possible, said Brady Scott, a fellow at the American Association for Respiratory Care.
“If pets are outside, they’re running around outside or if they’re spending most of their time outside, it seems like it would probably create some irritation in their breathing and their airways and lungs as well,” he said.
How to scrub pollutants from indoor air
Indoor air filters can help reduce or remove pollutants, including small particulate matter from wildfire smoke. These tiny particles, measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter or roughly 4% of the width of a strand of hair, are small enough to be breathed deep into the lungs and can enter the bloodstream. Studies have found that even short-term exposure to small particulate matter increases the risk of a range of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Health officials recommend that people stay indoors as much as possible when air pollution levels are elevated. Indoor air filtration, including HVAC systems (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and portable air purifiers can also help scrub pollutants that may have traveled inside homes and other buildings.
People can purchase portable air cleaners with replaceable HEPA filters that strain out small particulate matter, or PM2.5. HEPA filters are also available for homes outfitted with central heating and cooling systems. California’s Environmental Protection Agency recommends using an indoor air cleaner anytime the air quality index hits “unhealthy” levels, or if people see or smell smoke in the air.
But people can also make their own indoor air cleaners by attaching an air filter to a box fan with tape, brackets or a bungee cord. If window air conditioning units, HVAC systems or portable air cleaners are not available, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said “DIY air cleaners” can serve as “a temporary alternative to commercial air cleaners.” The agency cautioned that DIY air cleaners should not be used routinely, and that concerns have been raised about the potential fire or burn risk involved if box fans overheat.
The EPA added that there is limited research on the effectiveness of DIY air cleaners, but a study published in July 2021 in the journal Aerosol and Air Quality Research found that low-cost filtration methods, including attaching a filter to a box fan, “can have significant benefit for filtering submicron smoke particles and may reduce exposure to PM2.5 during wildfire smoke events.”
Washington, D.C., visitors cope with haze amid poor air quality
Vera Zurndorfer, a Los Angeles resident, is no stranger to poor air quality. During California's fire season, "it's always like this," she told NBC News in Washington, D.C.
"I feel for anybody that has to breathe this stuff in," she said. "This is pretty darn nasty."
Washington's air quality, despite still forecast by the Council of Governments as unhealthy, is a respite for some traveling from New York.
"It was more intense there," said Chris Erdos, who traveled to Washington from upstate New York. "I could smell it, and it was really hazy."
North Carolina issues air quality alert
The North Carolina Emergency Management issued an air quality alert for the entire state today, as smoke from wildfires in Canada continues to make its way down the Eastern Seaboard.
Cities issue 'code red' air quality alerts
Cities across the East Coast are issuing air quality alerts and warnings to avoid time outdoors as wildfire smoke from Canada brings dangerous air pollution levels.
Philadelphia's Department of Public Health issued a code red alert for unhealthy fine particles today, warning, “some members of the general public may experience health effects. Members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.”
New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation also issued an air quality health advisory for the city, Long Island, the lower and the upper Hudson Valley, eastern Lake Ontario, and central and western New York, warning of fine particulate matter from 12 a.m. today through midnight.
Such warnings are issued when officials predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter, are expected to exceed an air quality index of 100.
New Yorkers were urged to save energy by taking mass transit, turning off lights and unused appliances, using fans to circulate air and closing blinds and shades to preserve cooled air.
In Washington, D.C., health officials also issued a code red air quality alert, saying conditions will be “unhealthy for people with heart/lung disease, older adults, children & teens.”
Reduced visibility is anticipated from 3 to 6 p.m. and officials encouraged people to wear masks and keep outdoor activity short.
New York braces for another wave of smoke
The National Weather Service warned this morning that New York City should expect another wave of smoke to hit in the early afternoon, as a plume makes its way over central New York and northern Pennsylvania.
NYC had its worst air quality yesterday — and today could be worse
Not only did New York City have the worst air quality in the world yesterday — but it also reported the worst air quality ever measured in the city.
Reliable monitoring began in 1999 and the previous most polluted days were July 7, 2002, and Oct. 9, 2003, also from wildfire smoke.
An air monitoring station in the Queens borough finished yesterday with a staggering 24-hour air quality index average of 174. This tops the old record of 167 for any air monitoring station in the greater New York City area during the past 24 years.
It's also worth noting that this station peaked early last evening with an AQI reading more than 350, which at the time categorized the air as “hazardous.”
This record may be short-lived. AQI readings are still very high today and a thick blanket of smoke over central New York is expected to move over New York City this evening, making the air quality even worse.
NYC’s fine particulate matter concentration 14.5 times more than the WHO guideline
Wildfire smoke can create fine particulate matter in the air, or PM2.5, an air pollutant that causes haze and can lead to lasting health effects.
As of this morning, New York City’s PM2.5 levels were 14.5 times the World Health Organization annual air quality guideline value, according to IQAir.
Inhaling particulate matter 2.5 can be dangerous as it can travel into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure can affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease, according to the New York State Health Department.
Particulate pollution can also increase the risk of asthma, lung cancer or other chronic lung diseases, particularly in the vulnerable, such as elderly people, pregnant women, infants and children.
N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul warns about smoke exposure
Masks can help in smoky conditions
If you need to spend time outside in the smoke, a mask can help.
Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at the Allergy & Asthma Network, said masks such as N95 respirators can filter out particulate matter in the air.
“Believe it or not, masking just like we did with Covid can be helpful in acting as a barrier between you and reduce the amount of particulate matter that you breathe in,” she said.
More than 400 wildfires are burning in Canada
The smoke taking over swaths of the U.S. is coming from Canada, where more than 400 wildfires are burning, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fires Centre.
In Quebec, more than 150 forest fires were burning yesterday, with more than 110 considered out of control. The fires prompted evacuation orders in Chibougamau, Quebec, a remote town of about 7,500 last evening.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair called the situation “serious” and described images of the wildfire season “the most severe we have ever witnessed in Canada.”
“The current forecast for the next few months indicates the potential for continued higher-than-normal fire activity,” he added.
NOAA radar shows intense smoke over eastern U.S.
N.J. Forest Fire Service warns about a wildfire
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service warned last night about an uncontained wildfire.
The National Weather Service has warned that fire weather had been developing in the U.S., and that it can spark "dry thunderstorms" leading to wildfires.
Smoky haze blankets Yankees game
NYC had the worst air quality in the world last night
New York City had the worst air quality in the world last night as the Atlantic coast was blanketed in smoke and smog from the wildfires in Canada.
The city reached the top of the worst air quality chart on IQAir, a Swiss air monitoring company, around 9 p.m. yesterday, with levels that exceeded the prior worst air quality event on record for the area in July 2002.
By this morning, New York docked down to second, after Delhi, India.
City dwellers woke up to yet another hazy sky and a sun that blazed more red and orange than usual due to the smoke.
How poor air quality hurts your health
Poor air quality can be caused by any airborne “irritant” — a particle or substance in the air that is harmful to a person to breathe in, according to Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at the Allergy & Asthma Network.
Many of the health issues people see from poor air quality, in general, can overlap with health issues seen from wildfire smoke, said Dr. Wynne Armand, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate director of the MGH Center for the Environment and Health.
98 million people under air quality alerts for wildfire smoke, ozone
Much of the nation will grapple with low air quality today as wildfire smoke from Canada continues to spread over the U.S.
Parts of 18 states are under air quality alerts this morning from New Hampshire to South Carolina. Large metro areas under alerts include New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Another surge of significant smoke will move south this afternoon across the Northeast with the worst of the smoke expected in and around New York City from 3 to 9 p.m.